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The Man Who (Almost) Killed Fiji Water

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The life and times of Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama have been nothing if not remarkable. The man who now calls himself Fiji’s interim Prime Minister had commanded the island nation’s navy for nearly a decade, helped to overthrow its government, installed new leadership, deposed new leadership, aided in abolishing a constitution, and, through various questionable political maneuvers, established himself as the de facto dictator of the entire nation.

He even has a Facebook page!

But for those of us who aren’t exactly devotees Fijian politics, Bainimarama is better known for doing something else: Almost killing Fiji Water.

Yesterday, news circulated that Fiji Water had shut down its plant after Bainimarama sought to impose a 15% tax hike on the water company. The “Water Resource Tax” specifically applies to companies that extract more than 3.5 million liters of water in a month. Fiji Water is the only company that applies.

But this time, Bainimarama may have gone too far.

Fiji Water says that it accounts for one fifth of all of Fiji’s exports. And for a country whose economy is “in serious trouble,” losing one of its biggest revenue sources and job creators isn’t exactly smart economic policy.

In a statement, Fiji Water—which is based in Los Angeles—said that shutting down its plant “sends a clear and unmistakable message to businesses operating in Fiji or looking to invest there: the country is increasingly unstable, and is becoming a very risky place in which to invest.”

Bainimarama responded: "As usual Fiji Water has adopted tactics that demonstrate (it) does not care about Fiji or Fijians. They have made statements about supposed instability in Fiji and know it is not true, yet do so because they simply do not want to pay the new taxes," he said.

And thus a showdown begins.

Correction. It appears that the showdown is over!

Radio New Zealand has just reported that “following discussions with Fijian officials, the [Fiji Water] bottling plant will open at 8am.”

Care to guess who won?



Fiji Water has agreed to pay the new tax. Man, that guy is good.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.